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The Claytronics Project and Domain-Specific Languages

The Claytronics Project and Domain-Specific Languages

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The Claytronics Project and Domain-Specific Languages

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  1. The Claytronics Project and Domain-Specific Languages Nels Beckman SSSG Presentation February 6th, 2006

  2. Introduction to the Claytronics Project • Goal: Use large numbers of nano-scale robots to create synthetic reality. • Think the ‘Holodeck’ from Star Trek. • Other people and objects created entirely from nano-scale robots. SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  3. Introduction to the Claytronics Project • Catoms: the robotic substrate of the Claytronics project • Bands of electro-magnets provide locomotion • Infrared sensors allow for communication • Metal contact ringsroute power throughout ensemble SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  4. Introduction to the Claytronics Project • Movements amongst catoms produces movement of macroscopic structure • Like a hologram, but you can touch and interact with it SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  5. Introduction to the Claytronics Project • Movements amongst catoms produces movement of macroscopic structure • Like a hologram, but you can touch and interact with it SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  6. Introduction to the Claytronics Project • Current State of Claytronics • 2D Physical Prototypes, order of 2” diameter • Applications written and tested in simulator SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  7. Introduction to the Claytronics Project • Project needs expertise in many areas • Electrical Engineering • Design and Manufacture of Nano-scale robots • Physics • Structural support and movement • Robots/AI • Motion planning, collective actuation, grasping • Software Engineering SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  8. Claytronics: Interesting Problems for Software Engineers • Millions of concurrent nodes imply: • High likelihood of bug discovery • Necessity of localized algorithms • Single application for all nodes • Nodes switching roles • Node failure is inevitable SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  9. Melt: A Claytronics Application • My Task: Program a distributed ‘Melt’ application in the Claytronics simulator • Idea: • Go from 3D structure to flat plane of catoms • Bring down catoms safely, don’t drop them • Do so without global knowledge of locations • Use C++, the language supported by the simulator SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  10. Melt: A Claytronics Application • Idea: Catoms that are the ground find empty spaces… SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  11. Melt: A Claytronics Application • Ground-floor catom finds and ‘locks’ a different catom, handing off directions to empty space. nextMove Catom: 5 FID: 4 SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  12. Melt: A Claytronics Application • Message is propagated. Locked catoms form a path. nextMove Catom: 8 FID: 3 SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  13. Melt: A Claytronics Application • Finally, message can no longer propagate… nextMove Catom: 1 FID: 6 SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  14. Melt: A Claytronics Application • And final catom begins to move… Next Move? SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  15. Melt: A Claytronics Application • And finally catom begins to move… Catom:8 FID: 3 SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  16. Melt: A Video SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  17. From here on… • What I learned • What makes programming applications difficult • What static guarantees might we like to make • How a domain-specific language might help SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  18. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Issues common to all distributed systems • Issues specific to Claytronics SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  19. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Timing Issues/Race Conditions • Situation: Catoms must make decisions based on local information • Difficult even with sequentially executing catoms • But we have concurrently executing catoms • The world can change immensely between decision point and execution point • Developer is forced to enumerate all possible environment changes SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  20. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Timing Issues/Race Conditions • Example: Void onEmptySpaceReply(Message _msg) { if(_msg->getEmptySpace() == -1) { //... } else { int empty_space = _msg->getEmptySpace(); if( hostPointer->getNeighbor(0) != null ) { send(hostPointer->getNeighbor(0),empty_space); } }} • Common to Most Distributed Systems SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  21. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Timing Issues/Race Conditions • Example: Void onEmptySpaceReply(Message _msg) { if(_msg->getEmptySpace() == -1) { //... } else { int empty_space = _msg->getEmptySpace(); if( hostPointer->getNeighbor(0) != null ) { send(hostPointer->getNeighbor(0),empty_space); } }} • Common to Most Distributed Systems Space could become avail. Not a huge issue. SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  22. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Timing Issues/Race Conditions • Example: Void onEmptySpaceReply(Message _msg) { if(_msg->getEmptySpace() == -1) { //... } else { int empty_space = _msg->getEmptySpace(); if( hostPointer->getNeighbor(0) != null ) { send(hostPointer->getNeighbor(0),empty_space); } }} • Common to Most Distributed Systems Space could become occupied. Cause for some concern. SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  23. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Timing Issues/Race Conditions • Example: Void onEmptySpaceReply(Message _msg) { if(_msg->getEmptySpace() == -1) { //... } else { int empty_space = _msg->getEmptySpace(); if( hostPointer->getNeighbor(0) != null ) { send(hostPointer->getNeighbor(0),empty_space); } }} • Common to Most Distributed Systems Neighbor could die, my message will go into the void. SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  24. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Language doesn’t support all styles of design equally • Situation: I desire to program in a mostly reactive, state-based style • Natural for many types of Claytronics applications • Helps support the fact that one piece of code must work in different catom situations SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  25. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Language doesn’t support all styles of design equally • Examples: • Floor Catom: Catom on floor • Sky Catom: Catom waiting for a request to extend • Path Head: Catom actively extending the path • Mover: Catom moving down to the ground • Locked Catom: Member of a path • All respond to different messages, perform different actions SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  26. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Language doesn’t support all styles of design equally • Result: • Jumble of if/else/case statements, nested many layers deep • To receive messages, I must register message handler methods… Behavior results from code spread amongst several methods SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  27. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Programming for emergent behavior • Situation: I want a cube to melt but I can only program single catoms to move. • There is no traceability between the code I am writing and the behavior of the ensemble • Small code changes have a tremendous effect on the result SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  28. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Invalid/Unanticipated States • Situation: • Catoms have a tendency to arrive at unintended states • It is difficult to predict multiple paths of execution • I want to think about one or two catoms at a time, but all catoms affect me SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  29. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Invalid/Unanticipated States • Example: • In order for all catoms to be brought down to the ground, paths must go in every direction, not just up and down. Cube of catoms, side-view. SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  30. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Invalid/Unanticipated States • Example: • In order for all catoms to be brought down to the ground, paths must go in every direction, not just up and down. Cube of catoms, side-view. SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  31. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Invalid/Unanticipated States • Example: • After I implemented this functionality, I had a problem. Often the catoms in the middle of the cube would not come down. Cube of catoms, top-down view SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  32. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Invalid/Unanticipated States • Example: • Catoms were making paths around the catoms that really needed them, and then getting stuck. Cube of catoms, top-down view SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  33. What makes programming catoms difficult? • Invalid/Unanticipated States • Result: • Not a hard problem to fix • Hard problem to find • Hard problem to anticipate • A complex set of messages and circumstances can lead to strange situations • Analyzing the message/state path of any one catom would not show me the problem SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  34. Static Guarantees? • There are certain properties of our code that it would be very helpful to determine statically • Any message received by a catom will eventually be handled • The code you’ve written does indeed correspond to the emergent behavior you desire • The physical failure of one catom doesn’t cause other catoms wait forever • Other distributed system properties; no deadlock, livelock, race conditions… SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  35. First-Cut Solutions • Model-checking • Existing models and best-practices from embedded/distributed systems community • Strategies for avoiding/detecting deadlock • Better development tools • Visual Debugging • Timelines of catom messages and state transitions SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  36. Domain-Specific Languages • Mean different things to different people • Allow programmers to use the basic lingo of the domain (catoms, features, surfaces, holes) • This approach has a tendency to load the language with lots of very specific constructs • Close mapping from the thought process to the implementation SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  37. Domain-Specific Language • What might a Claytronics DSL look like? • Match programming language with basic style common to domain • State-based style seems to be commonly used • Language could allow definitions of states, actions, events and transitions • Languages exist for this purpose SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  38. Domain-Specific Language • What might a Claytronics DSL look like? • Define emergent behavior • Program at the level of importance, the emergent behavior • Let the compiler handle the rest • Eg. SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  39. Domain-Specific Language • What might a Claytronics DSL look like? • Allow for transactions • Voting and agreement are reoccurring themes • Help the programmer deal with race conditions • Important Questions • What can and cannot be ‘rolled-back?’ • Should transactions be local or distributed? SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs

  40. End SSSG Presentation; Claytronics and DSLs